The Nelson Town Band carries on the tradition of a local town band, playing on town commons, church lawns, and parades throughout the Monadnock, with occasional forays into Vermont. The season opens on Memorial Day and finishes with a holiday concert in December in the Nelson Town Hall. The band is made up of players of all ages from the town of Nelson, NH and surrounding towns. Typically, the younger members are active in their school bands and many are very accomplished musicians who plan to pursue a serious study of music. Several of the older members have dusted off their instruments after many years and are discovering how much fun it is to play again.
The current iteration of the Nelson Town Band was begun in 1989 when Louise Dierker and her husband Dave Patek, playing drum and flute respectively, marched up the hill from the Nelson Common to the cemetery (a steep 1/4 mile), on Memorial Day. Shortly after that they engaged fellow Nelson residents Rick Lothrop, a tuba player, and Charlie Lang on trumpet. Charlie quickly assumed the role of director, acquiring and organizing music, fielding calls for gigs, and running rehearsals. Over the next few years the band grew. As the band increased in size and complexity, it became desirable to have an official conductor, a role ably filled by Donna Morse, a professional musician who, along with the rest of her family, had been playing in the band for some time. Today Donna conducts most of the concerts, slipping back into her clarinet chair when she is able.
The Nelson Town Band has a varied repertoire, playing marches by John Philip Sousa and other composers, show tunes, old popular songs, and even a rendition of a New England contra dance tune written by Ralph Page. Income from the concerts and parades goes to support students going to music camp, to other area musical programs in need of funding and to purchasing music for the band. The Nelson Town Band has been able to contribute generously to purchasing new band chairs, a tuba and a stage piano at Keene High School, and new uniforms for the Keene Middle School band, as well as to other music programs in need.